Back home after an amazing foodie weekend as Master of Ceremonies in the Cookery Theatre at Oxford Foodies Festival (@foodiesfestival), I thoroughly enjoyed myself and am now completely exhausted and having trouble picking up my glass of wine.
Some of the highlights of the weekend have got to be a fabulous double act from Katie and Giancarlo Caldesi (@KatieCaldesi), Italian perfection, a superb dem by Gary Jones, Executive Chef of Le Manoir aux Quatre Saisons and the honour of working with the incredibly charming Daniel Galmiche (@danielgalmiche) of The Vineyard at Stockcross.
I've had the pleasure to work with James MacIntosh, the AGA Rangemaster Brand Ambassador (@agarangemaster) who has an AGA in the back of his van. This is soooo cool, he did have a couple of people approach him to ask if AGA were selling working ovens in the back of vans, we didn't think that was a bad idea, imagine the use of an AGA in the back of your van for camping? Forget about Hunter wellies, an AGA in a van would be the ultimate in camping chic. My husband even asked if it was a working AGA and was James doing dems from it? Come on guys, NO it doesn't work, how on earth would you plug it in, it's probably a little too big to hook up to the cigarette lighter.......although, there's a development idea.
James and I had a great laugh, Dawn Roads at AGA has spoken about him a lot and I've felt that I've been missing out by not meeting him, and now I know that I really have missed out but no longer, love him to bits and I'm really looking forward to working with him again.
Julian of Chefs on Stage, they provide the chef's theatre, was a pleasure to work with again, totally professional and does a grand job as my 'glamourous assistant' when I forget to bring pans and things onstage, I did wind him up about requiring him to wear a sequinned leotard and ostrich feathers and won't repeat what he said.
We had some fragrant Moroccan cooking from Mohammad of Exotic Tagine over the past two days, sardine balls with couscous, heavenly and a delicious lamb tagine this afternoon with marinated aubergines and Kuldeep (@TreeHotels) from The Tree at Iffley cooked up marinated sea bass with wild mushrooms and spinach which left everyone wondering why on earth they ever put up with the local Indian takeaway when you can experience Indian Cookery like this, if you've not tried The Tree then you have to go, although there will be no turning back to your local takeaway afterwards.
Yesterday we had a bit of a crisis with the chef from one of Oxford's best restaurants calling in sick and having to persuade Adrian from The Really Interesting Crab Company to come on stage and talk about crabs. He's a fisherman, not a presenter and was shaking backstage seriously questioning why he'd allowed himself to be talked into doing this. Well, 5 minutes into it he was in his element and delivered one of the best dems of the whole weekend. Taking the audience through how to choose, despatch, cook and get the meat out of a crab so anyone who has ever ordered crab in a restaurant and been presented with a whole cooked crab, in the shell, with a couple of metal prongs now knows how to break it up and eat it, it was fascinating. Adrian was quick to get rid of his stagefright, he cam off stage and immediately asked when he could go on again and do another dem, brilliant.
On Friday we had wonderfully inspirational dems from Mike North, the chef patron at The Nut Tree in Murcott, Mike sources locally and even grows his own pigs to make sure that they really are happy pigs and he has a well deserved Michelin star, and Mark chandler, the chef patron at The White Hart at Fyfield between Oxford and Swindon with two rosettes and an incredible passion for food.
It has been a real pleasure to work with such amazing chefs and I've thoroughly enjoyed myself, now to put all the tips I've picked up from these guys into practice.